THE PAINTER

Out of the darkness
And into light
We face a blank canvas
And call it a life
Our hand tracing lines
Adding colour here and there
Some of us choose to be bold
While some of us never dare

So how much am I bid
For this crazy life I've lived?
Do you find it too frivolous or too bleak?
Does it move you to tears?
Or does it look like wasted years?
This painting has cost me more than I dare speak

Lost in a city
Lost in a crowd
I don't speak till I get drunk
And then I get too loud
Your beautiful face
I have captured it by hand
But you denied me your heart
And cut me down where I stand

I have painted sorrow
And sometimes joy
But cocktails in a gallery
Won't bring back my boy
So I'll paint him from memory
From the time he called me dad
Some of us paint our mistakes
While some of us just go mad


(c) Frank Howson 2018

Painting by Frank Howson. 

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THE PEOPLE OF DARKNESS

The living are always under attack from the dead. As night follows day so do those of darkness target those of light and stalk them with words of hero worship when,  the truth is, the mere existence of those with a spark irritates them and they consciously or, in some cases, subconsciously,  work toward the extinguishment of that flame. Wilhelm Reich writes about this condition in detail in his book The Murder of Christ.

The people of darkness use many tools to bring down the envied. Negative rumours, stories that are unfounded in fact, and a whole range of politically acceptable words to discredit their target i.e., Narcissist (this applies to anyone who is successful in showbiz who uses social media to promote their latest ventures) because the fact that someone may actually be getting off their fat ass and doing something reminds the person of darkness how meaningless and unfocused their own life is; Nazi (it is acceptable in today’s politically correct world to call anyone with an opposing opinion this and get away with it. This is disgustingly outrageous and unfair to their target whose only crime may be to have an original thought, as well as, obviously, making light of what the real Nazis did). But let me not bring logic into this lest I be called names. Anti-Semitic is a good one too in some cases. I have even witnessed Jewish people being called anti-Semitic because they dared to have an opinion that didn’t sit comfortably with the party line. Such is the out of control world we live in where the militant wheel gets oiled first and the logical debate is not only not considered it is condemned. Here we have a perfect storm for the people of darkness to not only hide within, but thrive.

Bob Dylan has predicted for some time now that we have entered the end game. Anyone who has studied theology and the predictions of the old prophets would have to concur. In my opinion we are currently engaged in the final war between good and evil, darkness and light, and the shadow people are only going to get more and more hysterical as things don’t go their way. They are currently very confused as to why things aren’t going the way of the Polls. Could it be divine intervention?

It is difficult to untangle yourself from a person of darkness because they are cling ons – spiritual vampires sucking your energy. And the more you give them the more resentful they will become towards you. For even your kindness is an irritation. A reminder of what they are not. They will insult you by praising strangers and even abusing and opportunistic ex-partners above your efforts to help, give and support. This is to make you crazy and so confused you will cease to be able to function and end up zombie like staring out a window into the light that was once your source. Do not under any circumstances feed them. Let well enough alone. Danger and madness this way comes.

(C) Frank Howson 2017

ME AND JOHN LENNON

I was thrown up into this world
Or born into it
Or cast down 
Some time ago
When everything was grey
Mostly
Although some things were black
Or white
And your skin colour
Could be wrong or right
Regardless of your heart
And actions
It made me nervous
That one could so easily
Cross the line 
And be punished
For who you were
So I locked myself away
In my room
My tomb
And listened to the radio
But mostly the music was grey too
Like Johnny Ray
And Doris Day
So I dreamed in Vistavision
And lived in the movies
Where the hero stood up to the mob
And did the right thing
Regardless of the cost 
Sometimes getting the girl
In the final reel
Sometimes not
For the hero was mostly a loner
A man who'd seen too much
And didn't want to see anymore
For he too 
Found that the world was grey
And was not above sacrificing his life
So that others may live
I continued on
Looking forward to Christmas
And my birthdays
When suddenly there was kindness
And laughter
And glimpses of the colours 
Of joy
And what the world could be
If only we tore the walls down
And embraced
And displayed our brokenness 
And vocalised our care for others
Imagine
I was about eleven years of age
With my mum in the Myer department store
In the city
When I heard a sound that changed my life
It was unlike anything I'd ever heard
I stopped 
Transfixed 
My mother asked me what was wrong 
I smiled because 
Suddenly 
Everything seemed somehow right
I wandered away
Toward the music 
Leaving my mother to follow me
The singer's voice 
Was the most exciting and dynamic sound
I'd ever heard
He sounded like a caged animal
That had just been set free
As I had 
The record was "Twist And Shout"
By a group called the Beatles
And on the front cover of their EP
They looked to this kid from St. Kilda
To be from another planet
Their hair, their clothes, their boots, their sound 
It seemed the planet they came from was called Liverpool
I needed to know what the singer's name was
And was told by the girl behind the record counter
That he was John Lennon
And he played rhythm guitar and co-wrote moat of their songs 
John Lennon saved my life that day
And he has had my staunch loyalty ever since
I grew to read much about him
In fact, everything
And have since met many people who knew him
He was a complex, fascinating, contradictory and flawed man
All of which made him even more interesting 
And still does to this day
Scarred by the early loss of his father, then his mother
And then his best friend
He put up a guard to protect himself
From any more hurt 
His singing tone sometimes snarled to hide his pain
But we heard it in his soul
And in the words of his songs
And knew that behind the tough guy facade he was the kindest 
And most caring of all 
My friend Phil Sloan told me that John's spirit was so huge 
That you actually felt his presence enter a room 
Before you'd even seen him 
Another friend of John's who'd known me for some time
Told me that he would've liked me
I hope so
Because I have spent a long time
Loving him 
He was my liberator, my hero, my friend
He made me laugh, he made me cry, he made me angry, he made me care
And sometimes when I am lost or despairing
I think about how Johnny Rhythm would handle things 
And it gives me the inspiration to go on
To try and find a way
I guess it was destiny
That he left us after such a short time
But perhaps his spirit was too big for this world
As his beautiful boy Sean said to his mother when she was grieving,
"Don't worry, Daddy's bigger now...Now he's part of everything."


(c) Frank Howson 2017

HOME

The street was the same as I remembered it. And the birds swooped as if to herald my return. So it was true, I hadn’t dreamed it. For a moment I stood and took in the beautiful cacophony of noise that I’d never fully appreciated before in all its ugly glory. The sun came out to shine on cue and its warmth informed me that I had now entered a safety zone for lost boys.

How can you know a place so well and yet feel that you are seeing it for the first time? If this is a dream and I awaken now I will be angry all day. Maybe all days.

I continue moving on further into it until I reach the gate no one ever closes, and the narrow cement path  leading to the apartment block steps I once knew so well I could climb them in the dark, and under the influence of too much life. This time there seems to be a lesson learnt in each step and greater effort needed to conceal the weariness of the outsider.

Halfway up I enter the glow from the first storey window that conspires to shine God-like behind the statue of Buddha as if even the universe is welcoming my return.

More steps and more weary remembrances of lessons learned and I am at the front door, knocking in a drum pattern of whimsy and familiarity.

After an eternity of seconds the door is opened and I see your smiling face as I remembered it from a long ago carefree time. Bright, loving and kind. I can now die in my footsteps and not be lost to wander and wonder.

I enter and am surrounded by the comfort of the greatest books and music ever written. Each word and note a friend of mine. And I sit at the empty table. Alone no more. Everything and nothing has changed as I take my place amongst it.

You ask me how I am. But there are no words to convey the miracle of ordained destiny.

For in that sheltered moment, I am home.

 

(C) Frank Howson 2017

WE CAN BE HEROES (JUST FOR ONE DAY).

It’s no secret – we have always craved heroes. The loner who steps forth and willingly lays down their life so that others may live. Call them Jesus, Davy Crockett, Sherlock Holmes, Joan of Arc, Sydney Carton, Gandhi, etc., etc., etc. Like the gestation of a pearl, our heroes are formed as a defense mechanism against a threatening irritant. No one is born a hero. They are made. In the words of John Wayne, “Courage is being scared to death – but saddling up anyway.” Few of us know what we’d do in a life or death moment – that split second decision to stand or flee. As illustrated in Stephen Crane’s masterpiece novel “The Red Badge of Courage” that split second decision will mark us forever as either coward or hero. I wonder how many cowards crave to return to that defining moment – and this time lay down their life in lieu of the hell of regret and shame they have since endured.

Heroes, genuine ones, are hard to come by. In fact, the times we live in seem to rarely throw them up anymore. Hence the media and movies invent them for us so we can glow and feel safe in the knowledge that giants still do walk amongst us.

But in our eagerness to find heroes we are continually disappointed at being sold snake oil. Let’s face it, there are only two types of stories that sell newspapers and magazines – the first one is to build ’em up, the second – to tear ’em down. The perfect example is Princess Diana who started out as the media’s “darling who could do no wrong” and ended up their punching bag, stalked to death. I also remember when Alan Bond was hailed a hero. And Paul Hogan. And et finitum.

The real heroes mostly go unnoticed by the press. They probably aren’t photogenic anyway. They are the battlers who work themselves to an early grave so that their kids are fed and clothed; or the person who ruins a career rather than continue to make money out of a lie; and the firemen who run into a building when everyone else is running out.

Todd Beamer was an airline passenger travelling on 9/11 when he found himself on a hi-jacked plane heading towards the White House. After initially being terrified, he summoned the courage and the support of a few other passengers by uttering the words, “Let’s roll!,” broke open the cockpit door with a food cart, overpowered the terrorists and veered United Airlines Flight 93 off its intended target, straight into a field in Pennsylvania. Ordinary people swallowing their fear, and thought of themselves, for the greater good of others.

Which brings me to Julian Assange.

Remember how excited we were in 1974 that two reporters from the Washington Post could bring down the President of America? We loved it because we didn’t much like Nixon. He looked creepy. Had a five o’clock shadow year in, year out, and hadn’t ended an unpopular war that spilled into our living rooms every night ruining dinner. What looked like a victory for freedom to us back in ’74 has, in my opinion, created an even bigger monster. Now the press feel they are entitled to know everything about all of us and report it if they think it’s newsworthy. In this new age of no boundaries there are no such things as private lives anymore. Perhaps there’s a connection here as to why there’re so few heroes around? What complex person can have their private life scrutinised and come out a saint? We have all made mistakes (hopefully learned from them), trusted the wrong people, behaved badly, been divorced, been angry, been down, been bruised. But isn’t all that stuff the sand that makes the irritation that makes the pearl?

Would J.F.K have been so well thought of if we’d known all the aspects of his private life? Would it have made a difference to what we thought of his work as President? Should it?

Did it matter that Graham Kennedy was gay? Surely all he owed us was a brilliant performance every weeknight? And did he not deliver that in abundance?

Did it matter that Churchill could be a belligerent drunk bully at times?

My point is this – there are some things the public don’t have the right to know. Nor need to.

Is it a good thing that some of the secret information Julian Assange released to the world is out there? Probably. Does all of it deserve to be public? Probably not. But who decides about this? If I were to approve secret documents to be released it may not correlate with what you want made public, or the next person. So, don’t we vote into power political parties to make those judgment calls? And if we don’t like their decisions isn’t it our right, nay our duty, to vote them out?

One has to question the responsibility of releasing secret documents about Afghanistan. Why? Because we are, like it or not, involved in a war. A long and bloody war that has taken the lives of many and still it goes on. Do I want the US and Allied Forces (including us) to win this war? Well, if the alternative is the Taliban, you bet your arse.

One could not have had a more liberal President than Franklin D. Roosevelt. The new deal guy. A man who clearly cared about the people. He was reluctant to enter a war but when Pearl Harbour was bombed he didn’t have much of a choice. Yet how would President Roosevelt have responded to someone releasing his secret documents and information to the world (and his enemies) during wartime? I have no doubt he would’ve had the culprit charged with treason and made to pay the penalty for such. Thankfully it didn’t happen and the outcome of the war was not altered.

But to give blanket approval to Julian Assange’s actions is to open a can of worms that may never be closed again.

I was living in Los Angeles during 9/11 and saw the subsequent televised war in Afghanistan. On CNN one day I watched one of Geraldo Rivera’s reports from the war zone. During it he actually drew a diagram in the sand and pointed out where the US forces were secretly based and went on to expound what their plan of attack was. He obviously didn’t think Osama Bin Ladin watched CNN. Not one of Geraldo’s shining moments. I’m not sure how many of his countrymen he put at risk. But even one was too many.

Let me remind us all we are involved in a war. Whether you agree with that war or not, is another matter. But to put our young men and women’s lives at risk is an act of astounding stupidity. And not my kind of hero.

 
By Frank Howson (c)2012